MARSEILLE -  Underdogs Pakistan will take on top seeds Egyptians in the first match of the 2017 WSF Men’s World Team Squash Championship 2017 to be commenced today (Monday).

Former 6-time world team champion Pakistan , who won the title last time in 1993, have relatively inexperienced and fresh team , as there is only one ranked player Farhan Zaman, who has experience of representing the country in the world team event in 2013, while the event was cancelled in 2015. Although Shahjhan Khan, Ammad Fareed and if required Asim Khan don’t have the experience, which the Egyptians have, but Pakistan team’s morale is sky-high. They trained hard at court number 3, which was booked by Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) for training of the team . Interestingly, at court number 3 of the Modern Squash Club, the championship main round will be conducted and the first match of Pakistan will also be played at the same court.

When this scribe asked head coach Faheem Gul, when the team had brought balls from Pakistan , then why they are training with club balls, the coach replied: “Our balls are bit slow, the ball’s one side gets warmer after a few shots, but the other side remains cold. It has low bounce, while the balls provided by the Modern Club owner will not only be used in the championship, but they are also fast and have good bounce. It will help Pakistan players adjust to the bounce and court very well. It is very good step taken by the PSF to send the team ahead of the schedule, as it will help them prepare well for the event.”

All the four players Farhan Zaman, Shahjahan Khan, Ammad Fareed and Asim Khan entered the courts and were divided into two groups. Shahjahan was picked by Farhan Zaman, while Ammad had Asim for training. All the players and coach trained for around 30 minutes.

It was highly disappointing to witness the arena, Modern Club, which was picked by the World Squash Federation to conduct such a mega event, as there was hardly any space for four people to sit outside the courts. The old-styled wall courts needed urgent renovation and overall, it doesn’t seem a suitable place to conduct world cup of squash . It seems the WSF was in a hurry to allocate the event, as last time, it couldn’t take place so that’s why they didn’t bother to at least have a proper visit of the place.

It would be a nightmare for not only participating teams to have proper seating arrangements, while it will be impossible for the spectators to come and witness the mega event, as there is no place even to stand. The WSF has double-standards, as they sent security teams and refused Pakistan to conduct mega events, despite the fact that all the players had time and again acknowledged that it is only Pakistan Squash Federation, which gave them so much respect, pick and drop, tremendous hospitality, free drinking water, meal and respect. It was completely other way around, as nobody bothered to at least provide water to the players, who have to buy drinking water. Marseille is highly expensive place, while the PSF has provided reasonable dailies to the players, but even then, it will be a daunting task for Pakistani players to meet the expenses.

Meanwhile, the team managers/coaches meeting was also held, in which questions were raised regarding different players and order of players and were also resolved. Pakistan has Farhan Zaman as number 1, Shahjahan as number 2 and Ammad Fareed as number 3. Although it will take more than extra efforts for Pakistan to carve out unexpected victory against the top seeds, who have world’s best players at their disposal, but the way Farhan and his other teammates are looking focused and determined, anything can happen. Even if Pakistan players lose their match, it will be ideal practice session for them, which can help them prepare well against Switzerland.

Meanwhile, a mega inauguration ceremony was held on late Sunday night at Golden Tulip Hotel, where all the teams’ are residing. All the participating 24 nations were given a chance to interact with each other. The main hall was decorated with different welcome signs, while French team banners were placed everywhere in the city. French are seeded third, but being locals and had world number 2 available in shape of Gregory Gaultier, they could pose serious challenge to the participating teams.